Lynis - Security Tool for Audit and Hardening Linux Systems

Lynis is a security tool for audit and hardening Linux/Unix systems. This tool scans our systems, do some tests and gather information about it. Lynis will provide a report with suggestions and security-related warnings to increase the security of the system.

Lynis is compatible for many Operating Systems, such as:

  • AIX
  • Arch Linux
  • BackTrack Linux
  • CentOS
  • Debian, DragonFlyBSD
  • Fedora Core, FreeBSD
  • Gentoo
  • HPUX
  • Kali, Knoppix
  • Linux Mint
  • MacOS X, Mageia, Mandriva
  • NetBSD
  • OpenBSD, OpenSolaris, openSUSE, Oracle Linux
  • PcBSD, PCLinuxOS
  • Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and derivatives
  • Sabayon, Scientific Linux, Slackware, Solaris 10, SuSE
  • TrueOS
  • Ubuntu and derivatives

Lynis can also perform auditing for software such as:

  • Database servers: MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL
  • Time daemons: dntpd, ntpd, timed
  • Web servers: Apache, Nginx


You can install Lynis in two methods.

Method 1: Install from package

Both methods are equally easy. Lynis is available in .deb and .rpm package. So we can install it from your Linux repository.

On Debian / Ubuntu and its derivates

$ sudo apt-get install lynis

On RedHat / CentOS and Fedora

$ yum install lynis

Once Lynis installed, you can run it by typing lynis from your console.

Please notice that Lynis will need root privilege (or equal) to run.

Start Lynis

Method 2: Install from source

With this method, we will need to download the source manually. You can go to Lynis download page to download the source. At the time the article was written, the latest version of Lynis is 1.3.8.

Actually, Lynis don’t need to be install. You just download the source files, extract it, and run it. Here are the steps :

Download the source. You can use wget to download it.

$ wget

Extract it

$ tar zxfv lynis-1.3.8.tar.gz

Go to the Lynis folder and run it

$ cd lynis-1.3.8
# ./lynis
Lynis ver 1.3.8 start

Please notice that Lynis will need a root privilege (or equal) to run.

How to run Lynis

To run it at the first time, it is recommended to use -c option. The -c option means doing all tests to check the systems. If you want to put the Auditor name, just add --auditor parameter there.

Here’s some samples output:

# lynis -c --auditor “Pungki Arianto”
Figure 1. Initialize
System Tools
Figure 2. System Tools
Boot and Services
Figure 3. Boot & Services and Kernel
Users and Group
Figure 4. Users and Group
Shell and Storage
Figure 5. Shell and storage
Software, Ports and Packages
Figure 6. Software, Ports and Packages
Networking and Printer
Figure 7. Networking and Printer
Email, Firewalls and Web Server
Figure 8. Email, Firewalls and Web Server
SSH, SNMP and Databases
Figure 9. SSH, SNMP and Databases
PHP, Squid and Logging
Figure 10. PHP, Squid Proxy and Logging
Inetd, Banner and Cron
Figure 11. Inetd, Banner and Cron
Accounting, NTP and Cryptography
Figure 12. Accounting, NTP and Cryptography
Virtualization, Secframeworks and File Integrity
Figure 13. Virtualization, Security Frameworks and File Integrity
Malware Scanners, System Tool and Home directory
Figure 14. Malware Scanners, System Tool and Home directory
Kernel Hardening
Figure 15. Kernel Hardening
Hardening, Custom Tests and Result
Figure 16. Hardening, Custom Tests and Result
Hardening Index
Figure 17. Hardening Index

Run Lynis with Custom Tests

Your system may not need to run all the tests. If your server not running a web server, you don’t need to test it. For this purpose, we can use --tests parameter. The syntax is :

# lynis --tests “Test-IDs”

For version 1.3.8, there are more than 100 tests that we can do. Here are some list of Lynis Tests-ID.

FILE-7502 (Check all system binaries)

BOOT-5121 (Check for GRUB boot loader presence)
BOOT-5124 (Check for FreeBSD boot loader presence)
BOOT-5139 (Check for LILO boot loader presence)
BOOT-5142 (Check SPARC Improved boot loader (SILO))
BOOT-5155 (Check for YABOOT boot loader configuration file)
BOOT-5159 (Check for OpenBSD i386 boot loader presence)
BOOT-5165 (Check for FreeBSD boot services)
BOOT-5177 (Check for Linux boot and running services)
BOOT-5180 (Check for Linux boot services (Debian style))
BOOT-5184 (Check permissions for boot files/scripts)
BOOT-5202 (Check uptime of system)

KRNL-5622 (Determine Linux default run level)
KRNL-5677 (Check CPU options and support)
KRNL-5695 (Determine Linux kernel version and release number)
KRNL-5723 (Determining if Linux kernel is monolithic)
KRNL-5726 (Checking Linux loaded kernel modules)
KRNL-5728 (Checking Linux kernel config)
KRNL-5745 (Checking FreeBSD loaded kernel modules)
[04:57:04] Reason to skip: Test not in list of tests to perform
KRNL-5770 (Checking active kernel modules)
KRNL-5788 (Checking availability new kernel)
KRNL-5820 (Checking core dumps configuration)

Below is a sample command to run Check uptime of system and Checking core dumps configuration tests. If you want to add more tests, just add more Test-ID separated by space.

# ./lynis --tests “BOOT-5202 KRNL-5820”
Run specific Test-ID

To get more Tests-IDs, you can find it inside /var/log/lynis.log. Here’s a trick on how to do it.

1. First, we need to run lynis with -c (check-all) parameter.

# ./lynis -c -Q

2. Then look at the inside /var/log/lynis.log file. Use cat command and combine it with grep. Let say you want to search Test-ID which related to Kernel. Use keyword KRNL to find it.

# cat /var/log/lynis.log | grep KRNL
Search Test ID

Below are the complete keywords of Test-IDs that available in Lynis.

KRNL (kernel)
PROC (processor)
AUTH (authentication)
SHLL (shell)
STRG (storage)
NAME (dns)
PKGS (packaging)
NETW (network)
PRNT (printer)
FIRE (firewall)
HTTP (webserver)
DBS (database)
SQD (squid proxy)
LOGG (logging)
INSE (insecure services - inetd)
SCHD (scheduling - cron job)
ACCT (accounting)
TIME (time protocol - NTP)
CRYP (cryptography)
VIRT (virtualization)
MALW (malware)
HRDN (hardening)

Run lynis with categories

If you feel that put a lot of Test-IDs is painful, you can use --test-category parameter. With this option, Lynis will run Test-IDs which included inside specific category. For example, you want to run Firewall and Kernel tests. Then you can do this :

# ./lynis --tests-category “firewalls kernel”
Lynis Test Categories

To see a full list of the available categories, run:

# ./lynis --view-categories

Run Lynis as Cronjob

Since security needs to be consistent, you can automate Lynis to run periodically. Let say, you want to run it every month to see is there any improvement since the last Lynis run.

To do this, we can run Lynis as cronjob. Here’s a sample cronjob to run it every month.


DATE=$(date +%Y%m%d)

cd /usr/local/lynis
./lynis -c --auditor "${AUDITOR}" --cronjob > ${REPORT}

mv /var/log/lynis-report.dat ${DATA}

# End

Save the script into /etc/cron.monthly/lynis. Don’t forget to add related paths (/usr/local/lynis and /var/log/lynis), otherwise the script will not work properly.

Check the latest version of Lynis

We can use --check-update parameter to do this.

# lynis --check-update

If it outdated, Lynis only tell us about it. We have to download the update manually.

Lynis check update

Once we install the latest update, we will see the information.

Lynis up-to-date


Security needs to be consistent. Lynis can remind us to stay consistent. Lynis will scan your system and warn you for any security holes. Don’t forget to maintain Lynis always in the latest version to get more updates and more tests routine. As usual, we can always type man lynis or lynis --view-manpage to display Lynis manual page and explore it in more detail. Or if you are connected to the Internet, you can also go to Lynis documentation page.

3 Comments... add one

  1. Hi
    I noticed the output had a mention of PCI comfortability. I can find no mention of it in the Doc.
    Can you please tell me how to use it.
    Great tool.


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